How to read the decline in online sales on Cyber Monday

Cyber funk-day.
Cyber funk-day.
Image: Reuters/Brendan McDermid
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Online sales continued to slump on the Monday after Thanksgiving, so-called Cyber Monday, as US consumers spent less over the holiday weekend than they did the previous year.

Shoppers on US retail sites spent $10.7 billion yesterday (Nov. 29), according to data tracked by Adobe Analytics, about $100 million short of what they spent the previous year. But this slump was accompanied by a year-over-year increase in online sales throughout the month of November, indicating consumers are moving away from Thanksgiving weekend and instead shopping across more days.

Discounts are down amid supply chain issues

Online consumer spending fell 1.4% this cyber Monday compared to the previous year, while it decreased by 1.3% on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving Day. It stayed flat on Thanksgiving, when online retailers brought in $5.1 billion.

This is the first time Adobe has tracked a decline in sales over those shopping days, which in the past has been hyped by retailers as an opportunity to snag discounts that wouldn’t be available on any other days. But companies moved away from those promotions this year as they battled supply chain issues, offering discounts earlier in the month. Nearly half of Americans surveyed by the National Retail Foundation said they took advantage of early holiday deals or promotions before Thanksgiving this year.

“With early deals in October, consumers were not waiting around for discounts on big shopping days like Cyber Monday and Black Friday,” Taylor Schreiner, director of Adobe Digital Insights, said in an email statement.

Holiday discounts on products including appliances and computers—both of which are affected by the ongoing microchip shortage—have been weaker this year than in previous years, according to the Adobe data. The prevalence of out-of-stock messages also rose by 8% on Cyber Monday compared with last week, and 169% this month compared to pre-pandemic levels in January 2020.

Consumers are moving away from Black Friday, Cyber Monday

The dip in online spending this weekend doesn’t necessarily indicate US shoppers are turning away from holiday shopping all-together, but rather that they’re no longer as interested in shopping on highly marketed days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Online spending increased 11.9% from Nov. 1 to Nov. 29 this year compared to 2020, putting online retailers “on track for a season that still will break online shopping records,” Schreiner said. Adobe projects online spending to hit $107 billion this holiday season, a record high.